MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs finally got a contract extension done with the pitcher they acquired in the 2013 trade with the Orioles — albeit, the other pitcher in the deal.
Setup man Pedro Strop, acquired with Jake Arrieta in one of the landmark deals of the Cubs’ rebuild, signed a two-year, $11.85 million extension with a club option for 2019, the team announced Friday.
“Pedro’s been a rock for us down there,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “You look at the numbers he’s put up over the last three years, he’s been one of the best setup guys in the game.”
Strop, 31, already had settled on a one-year, $5.5 million deal to beat the arbitration deadline. He and the Cubs added a $5.85 million salary in 2018 and a $6.25 million option for 2019 (with a $500,000 buyout).
“I’m really glad they made this happen,” said Strop, who had a 2.85 ERA last year, despite being hampered late in the season by knee and groin injuries. “I love this team and the fans, and I love the city of Chicago.”
The hard-throwing Strop — a clubhouse favorite and leader — said he might have been able to land a deal in free agency next winter to be a closer. But, he said, “I like to win better than roles.”
The big unveil
After months of behind-the-scenes work and public anticipation, Jason Heyward and his new swing make their 2017 debut Saturday in the leadoff spot in the Cubs’ Cactus League home opener.
“I’ve been watching him in batting practice, and I can see it’s a lot freer and the ball’s coming off hotter,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But it’s all about game. I’m really eager for him because everybody just talks about all the work he’s done all winter. And I sense that he feels good about it and he’s kind of in a nice, peaceful moment with himself. So it’ll be really fun to watch.
“Of course, there’s still going to be probably some tweaking to go with it as they move it further forward. But I like it.”
Maddon said Heyward could get a slight increase in at-bats over a normal spring as he works to bounce back from the worst offensive season of his career (.230, seven homers, .631 OPS).
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